By Jorie Zajicek and Ryan C. Davis
What all is involved in a divorce with minor children?
Property Division: For a divorce in Tennessee, marital property is divided through equitable distribution. Marital property is anything that either party acquired after the marriage. Marital property must be divided equitably and in a manner that is reasonable and fair, although not necessarily equally. If one spouse has spent all of their time at home with the children, for example, the judge will view that time as a homemaker as a substantial contribution to maintaining the household.
Who gets the house? The judge will view the marital residence as martial property, and not as an emotional place where the children should remain. If the parties can’t reach an agreement as to who should remain in the home, and how the other spouse should receive their portion of the equity, the judge will order the house be sold and will divide any profit equitably.
Parenting Plan: In Tennessee, a “Permanent Parenting Plan” (PPP) is required to be filed in order for parents of minor children to get a divorce. PPPs can be completed by the parties or their attorneys and are formal, enforceable agreements.
If the parties cannot agree to the terms of a PPP, each parent must file his or her own proposed PPP with the court and may be required to attend mediation to resolve the differences. If an agreement on the differences cannot be met during mediation, the court will determine a PPP for the parties. Drafting a PPP correctly and in a way that the judge will approve is very difficult and should not be attempted without the assistance of a qualified divorce attorney.
Parenting Education Seminar: A Parenting Education Seminar gives parents information to deal with their children and with each other during and after the divorce. In any divorce where a PPP is entered, each parent is required to attend a Class. However, if the parties have reach an agreement on all of the terms of the PPP, the parties can file a waiver asking the court to waive the parenting seminar requirement.
Child Support: Child support calculations are complicated, but essentially the court will determine the parties' incomes and will establish a total "household" income. A parenting schedule is then established, resulting in the total number of days each parent will exercise parenting time. The total household income is then divided between those parenting days, to provide a consistent standard of living for the child regardless of which home they are in. See our education center post on Child Support here for more info.